Five years after forming at a Rainforest Action Group benefit show, the all-stars that make up Great American Taxi (Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon, Chad Staehly, Jim Lewin, Edwin Hurwitz and Chris Sheldon) are reinventing jam-band orientated roots rock into something they call “Americana Without Borders.”
And without borders it is, their new record, Reckless Habits, is a delightful array of genre-mixing tunes calling on influences like the Grateful Dead, Woody Guthrie and the Byrds.
There’s the swampy, New Orleans-inspired One of These Days and a funky cover of John Hartford’s Get No Better, both highlighted by Chad’s keyboard and brass from Peak to Freak horns. The Black Swan Singers add depth to the soul flavored Cold Lonely Town and there’s some honky-tonk swing in Tough Job which is all about the difficulties of living on the road.
On the other side of musical influences is Gram Parsons, a prime character in the title cut with mentions of the Rolling Stones, the International Submarine Band and his untimely departure at the Joshua Tree Inn paired with a steel-guitar driven melody that comes straight off Sweetheart of the Rodeo.
And giving a nod to their hula-hooping, festival-going fan base are the tongue-in-cheek Fuzzy, Little Hippy Girl and American Beauty. The two bluegrass jams, Unpromised Land and Big Sandy River have some fantastic fiddle work from producer Tim Carbone.
Reckless Habits is an Americana amalgamation that shouldn’t be missed by fans of Leftover Salmon, Gram Parsons, the Grateful Dead, Cosmic country or any other slightly rebellious form of roots music. And make room on your CD shelf for this one, the die-cut artwork by Greg Carr is phenomenal.